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GHOST IN THE SHELL ✪✪✪ Opened March 30
This film is from a 1995 Japanese anime by the same name, which was created from a manga title of the same name. Those who enjoy the genre in fiction will recognize this as pure Cyber Punk.
I'm a sci-fi fan and this is a little out there as opposed to the type of sci-fi I enjoy, however I still found it interesting and beautifully done. Scarlett Johansson plays the role of a personality transplanted into a robotic shell. She's the ghost part. Some of it is a little confusing but if you venture to see this one just go with the flow and enjoy marveling at the incredible imagination of the original creator of the comic book story.
In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals. When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others. Based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, "The Ghost in the Shell."
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE ✪✪✪ Opened March 30
Admittedly I'd already seen The Boss Baby on the Sunday morning of this film preview, so watching two children's animations one after the other is probably not the best way to review a film.
I loved the original The Lego Movie and the year long teaser trailers for this have had most of us salivating. This film promised wit and many laughs and possibly another of those catchy songs that will drive you crazy like The Lego Movie's Everything is Awesome.
However, I just wasn't charmed by this film and neither was my teenage son, or my friend who came along with her kids. It's certainly still fun but I felt the joke about Batman being unfeeling and cold got a little stale after the first half dozen references.
Many of my reviewer friends though did enjoy the film, so I'm not going to say don't see it. Just don't go along expecting the freshness and laughs we enjoyed in the first Lego film. We were all agreed upon that.
In the irreverent spirit of fun that made "The LEGO (R) Movie" a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble - LEGO Batman - stars in his own big-screen adventure: "The LEGO (R) Batman Movie." But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker's hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.
SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE Opened March 30
Not reviewed but I'm presuming if you enjoyed the first couple, you will enjoy this. Probably one for the littlies.
In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!
LAND OF MINE ✪✪✪½ Opened March 30
Land of Mine was first show in Perth at the Scandinavian Film Festival last year and our local wonderful alternative cinemas Luna brought the film back for its own run. This is another untold story from WW2 and of course it is grim and heartbreaking.
It's beautifully styled and the teenage actors are just incredible and this is a polished cinematic offering as we usually find with the Danish films.
In some parts I feel the narrative slowed and there was a shade of repetitiveness. However, if you are a fan of these historic dramas you will enjoy. Just know that if you are a parent of teenage children, the story and what happens to these poor boys might distress you. My boys are about the same age as the children portrayed and so my mind kept straying to them. I don't particularly enjoy this type of cinematic experience because it's far too easy to feel the emotions of a mother for these children.
Interestingly Director Martin Pieter Zandvliet had commented that while filming the teenage actors didn't know when they would be killed off, so that is real sweat on their brows I imagine. Once they 'died' in the film they were then sent home. The remaining actors would then feel all the emotions of their characters being left behind. Apparently they grew increasingly lonely as time went on and filming continued. Seems rather cruel actually. I think that's what you call method directing.
In the aftermath of World War II, a group of surrendered German soldiers are ordered by Allied forces to remove their own landmines from the coast of Denmark. Directed by Martin Zandvliet, Land of Mine made its world premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS ✪✪✪✪
Opened April 4 at Lotterywest Film Festival Perth
I enjoy music including classical music but I've never heard of the Silk Road Ensemble. Yo-Yo Ma yes, ensemble or the musicians in the ensemble created by Yo-Yo in 2000, no, not even a whisper. So I feel privileged to be enlightened.
This is a film for music and creative enthusiasts. It isn't one of those documentaries where you walk away thinking, 'Wow, that was incredible!' even though the vision and music hauntingly wonderful. This is more just a gentle reminder that beauty is in so many aspects of life that we miss noticing. This is also a film of hope and the incredible fortitude of man and his need to create something bigger than himself.
When I got home I was desperate to listen to more of the Silk Road Ensemble. I'm now a fan. Fabulous music and just an extraordinary blend of culture. Their music is certainly magical.
‘They don’t need to speak a common language: Their dazzling music says it all.’
We speak perfect Music.
This life-affirming documentary celebrates the power of music to uplift and unite. The Silk Road Ensemble was established by cellis Yo-Yo Ma to promote collaboration between cultures and is an ever-changing group of musicians from countries including Iran, Spain, Syria and China. This triumphant film from the director of Oscar-winner 20 Feet from Stardom (PIAF 2014) focuses on Yo-Yo Ma and four key musicians, each of whom brings something wonderful to the mix. If you seek a vision of hope in the face of global anxieties, this is the film for you.
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